Fashion designer Edgar San Diego sets first solo art exhibit

EDGAR San Diego with his work with ‘Portrait of an Old Soul’ (48 by 48 inches, acrylic). / PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF WILLIE DE VERA

At an early age, Edgar San Diego’s creativity was already evident. Over the years, this insatiable inclination towards the arts and fashion has made him an award-winning fashion designer, a sought-after costume designer and an accomplished painter.

He has headlined fashion shows here and abroad and designed for blockbuster musicals, but there hasn’t been a showcase for his artworks yet. Until now. SM Megamall will present San Diego’s first solo art exhibit, Baro’t Saya Tuwa at Ligaya, from 9 to 15 October at the ground level of giant mall’s Mega Fashion Hall.

“I turned 60 last year, and then after two days, the lockdown was imposed. I thought that it was only going to last for a month or two. So, to keep me away from boredom, I cleaned the house, reorganized my cabinets and did things that I neglected when I was busy with my dress shop,” San Diego recalls. “However, when I ran out of things to fix, I decided to pick up my brushes and called my canvas supplier. Luckily, she was open all the time to accept my orders. What I did was to order an extra four to six canvases, which eventually gave me no excuse to stop (painting).”

With the theme, “Tribute of Joy to the Filipina and her Traditional Dress amidst the Pandemic,” San Diego will flaunt his love for the beautiful Filipino woman, Filipino traditions, costumes and production design in 50 of his paintings. The colors are bright and the subjects are depicted to be happy to create positive vibes, which we need most in these challenging times. A percentage of the sales will be donated to Special Services of Jose Reyes Medical Center through Rheez Chua.

‘At the Sea’ (24 by 33 inches, acrylic on canvas). / ART BY EDGAR SAN DIEGO

“I must have been influenced by my mother, Nanay Mely, who had a dress shop at home. There were also times when I spent my weekends in my lolo’s house, where my favorite Tita Laleng also had a small dress shop,” he shares of his early forays into art. “I had a happy childhood with friends from both houses and school but more than playing outside, I would stay in my room to draw and render with my crayons.”

His favorite subjects were of pretty girls in beautiful clothes, occupying the unused pages of his notebooks. “I was always scolded by my parents and teachers for this. Eventually, I practiced with watercolors, which trained me to paint with acrylic,” adds San Diego.

In college, San Diego studied Fine Arts at the University of Santo Tomas (UST). The masters that inspired him include Gustav Klimt, Vincent Van Gogh, Edgar Degas, Diego Rivera, Claude Monet, Fernando Amorsolo and Carlos “Botong” Francisco.

“I love to go to museums when given a chance. Among the museums that I visited, my favorites are the Museum of Modern Art and the Metropolitan in New York City, the Musée d’ Orsay and Louvre in Paris, and the Victoria and Albert in London. I also had a great time in the teamLab Borderless immersive museum in Tokyo,” says San Diego.

Besides visiting museums during his travels, he also tries to watch stage musicals, which are very useful to his work as a costume designer. San Diego’s credits include Repertory Philippines’ The Wizard of Oz, The Man of La Mancha, M Butterfly, Aladdin, The Sound of Music; Trumpets’ The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, and Little Mermaid; and NewPort Theater’s Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.

“As a fashion and costume designer, I try to get inspiration from all sorts of things. For some who have followed my career in the past 40 years, they have seen the different things that I used as inspirations in my fashion shows,” he says. “They can be things from nature, a period in history, pop icons, or artworks of artists like Klimt, Tamara de Lempicka, Frida Kahlo and my friend Gabby Barredo. Since our UST days, his Gothic style has inspired me so much that led to several opportunities to collaborate with him in his exhibits and my fashion shows.”

‘Sumpaan’ (24 by 36 inches, acrylic on canvas. / ART BY EDGAR SAN DIEGO

When something he has seen strikes his imagination, he usually plays with it in his mind on how he can “Filipiñanize” it, and imagines what period or what setting it is in, what colors it is, or where will the lights come from. Then, he will draw different studies of it on paper before he paints it on canvas.

“In everything that I do, I always give myself a timeline, including in my paintings. My target is to post one painting on Facebook and Instagram [which my daughter Abby does] every Friday. In that way I have a goal and definitely no excuse to get lazy. In fact, when I was starting to paint last year, I finish two weekly out of excitement. Nowadays, my paintings are more detailed and labor-intensive. I start at around 11 a.m. when all my chores and errands are done and finish right before dinner,” San Diego says.

Since he just works in his porch at home and only uses minimal lighting, he packs up when the sun is gone. A lot of his friends and strangers that see his paintings on social media inquire through Messenger. He say his work has a special appeal to Filipinos who stay abroad. It gives them a nostalgic and homesick feeling. Some have already been sent to buyers in LA, New Jersey, Honolulu, Canada and Australia.

His passion for painting may have been rekindled, but San Diego still has fashion in his DNA. He accommodates couture orders once in a while, though he sends the designs and materials to his employees’ house, since he prefers that they all work safely from their own homes.

“Thank God for Grab and social media. The pandemic has affected generally the fashion industry including the importation of materials, our workers, fashion schools, modeling, and events,” he laments. “Let’s pray that everything will soon normalize and put the fashion industry back on its feet. We should also vote wisely and choose leaders who will support the Filipino heritage, culture, arts and the fashion industry.”

Baro’t Saya Tuwa at Ligaya is co-presented by SM Appliance Center, TCL, Amelia’s Garden, Artistshop, Beringer Wines, Doltz Pilar, Flyace Corporation, Gari P. Palmani. The production team of the exhibit include Dan Pablo (videographer), Jun Lopez (curator), Willie de Vera (photographer), Toots Tolentino (publicist) and Barbara San Diego (muse). For further details, check out the Facebook page, Edgar San Diego Fashion & Arts.

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Credit belongs to : www.tribune.net.ph

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